Defendant Dodges Traffic Stop, but Later Charged on Gun and Drug Counts

By Jacqueline Rodriguez

SACRAMENTO, CA –  Eric B. Murphy allegedly dodged a traffic stop, but when police officers caught up to him it led to a drug and gun bust. 

Murphy appeared via Zoom before the Sacramento County Superior Court Dept. 23 late last week for a preliminary hearing involving an alleged felony charge for possession of a firearm, as well as a misdemeanor charge for possession of marijuana for sale.

Judge Laurie Earl presided over the preliminary hearing, and a motion to suppress evidence filed by Murphy’s private counsel Keith Staten on March 29.

Judge Earl confirmed with Staten that it was to her understanding that “the scope of the motion to suppress was for the original detention,” and Staten confirmed. 

District Attorney Allison Wieder said the offer made earlier was “revoked.”

Staten said he had discussed the offer with Murphy, and requested that the “offer stay open simply because he’s exercising his Fourth Amendment right in regards to the motion, and that shouldn’t change the offer,” but that he understood why Wieder was taking the offer “off the table.” 

Judge Earl then ruled the offer would remain open until they began the hearings.

Police Officer Michael Nelson, appearing via Zoom, reported that May 28, 2020, he was responding to a citizen’s complaint on 65th Avenue in the County of Sacramento regarding five motorcyclists “driving at a high rate of speed up and down the streets, and residential area.”

When Nelson arrived on 65th Avenue, he heard what sounded like a “dirt bike engine” and he proceeded to drive toward that area in an attempt to locate the individual driving the dirt bike. 

When approaching the dirt bike, Nelson noticed that the dirt bike didn’t have a license plate, the headlights were turned off, and the suspect driving the dirt bike was not wearing a helmet.

As the dirt bike continued to drive, Nelson attempted to make a traffic stop but the suspect failed to yield, which forced Nelson to turn around in his patrol car, and catch up to the suspect.

After failing to pull over the suspect, Nelson noticed the dirt bike parked on a driveway of a residence that had three subjects standing outside. After getting out of the vehicle, and walking up to the subjects, Nelson informed them that he was “looking for someone that had just fled from him on a dirt bike.”

He also asked the subjects if any of them were on probation, and they all said no, as well as refused to show identification, maintaining “they weren’t involved.”

After receiving that information from the three subjects, Nelson proceeded to go to his vehicle to conduct a records check of the residents through WebKPF, a county database that holds parole and probation information—which resulted in Nelson locating a subject by the name of Eric Murphy whose residence address matched the residence where he currently was located.

Nelson also learned that Murphy was on formal searchable felony probation for possession of a firearm and marijuana sales, until 2022. Upon learning this information, Nelson got out of his vehicle, and approached the three subjects again asking which one of them was Eric.

After Murphy identified himself, Nelson put him in handcuffs, and he seated Murphy in the back seat of his patrol car. He said a probation/residence search found a plastic bin that contained “nine individual Ziploc bags filled with approximately eight ounces of marijuana ‘shake’ in each of the Ziploc bags,” which equaled out to be a total of four pounds and 10.8 ounces.

Inside the residence, “in the front bedroom closest to the south side of the house, officers located a loaded “31C Glock nine millimeter semi-automatic handgun, with a fully loaded extended 22 round magazine,” as well as $2,000 in cash in low denominations.

Judge Earl ruled against Staten’s motion to suppress, noting “there is nothing that the officer did that I believe would cause a reasonable person to believe that they were being detained and not free to leave, and I don’t believe that Mr. Murphy or the other two individuals had that feeling as well.” 

Judge Earl also said that by the time a detention did occur, at the point of time that Murphy was handcuffed, the judge believed that the officer was able to articulate a reasonable suspicion for detaining Murphy, and moving forward with a probation search.

Given the testimony of Officer Nelson, Judge Earl ruled there is sufficient cause to believe that Murphy is guilty of Counts 1 and 2.

A trial date will be set in July.  

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About The Author

Jacqueline Rodriguez is entering her senior year as an English major at UCLA. Given her personal experiences as a youth in the juvenile justice system, Jacqueline grew a passion for criminal justice reform which motivated her decision to pursue a career as a criminal law attorney. She is originally from the Bay Area, but currently resides in Los Angeles, California.

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